What Makes a Beauty Product Cruelty-Free? Vegan? Natural? Organic?

What's the Difference Between Cruelty-Free and Vegan Products, and Natural and Organic Products?

It used to be that seeing any of these terms on the label meant that the quality and effectiveness of the product wouldn’t match up to their chemical-filled counterparts. However, this is no longer the case at all! In fact, products containing one or more of these qualities are becoming increasingly more popular, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! Although many of us know that “organic”, “vegan”, “cruelty-free”, and “natural” generally mean good things, a lot of us aren’t sure of what makes these types of products different. So, what is the difference between organic and natural? How can one product be cruelty-free but not vegan?


  • No form of animal testing at any point during the creation of the product
  • Often symbolized on the product container as a bunny.
  • A cruelty-free product does not necessarily mean that it is vegan.

There are many products that are cruelty-free but not vegan. These cruelty-free products often include animal byproducts such as beeswax, collagen, honey, gelatin, lanolin, etc.


  • Do not harm animals in any way (directly or indirectly)
  • Are not tested on animals
  • Generally use plant-based foods
  • A vegan product is always cruelty-free

Just like someone who eats a vegan diet, vegan beauty products do not use any animal products or byproducts that provide direct or indirect harm to any animal. Even if a product is completely plant-based but it is still tested on animals, it is not considered vegan. A vegan product is, by definition, cruelty-free. 


  • Any product that is created with ingredients found from nature
  • Only 30% of these “natural” products can be produced synthetically to be considered 'natural' in any way
  • Not highly regulated 
  • A natural product doesn’t have to pass as rigorous standards as an organic product does.

According to Grigore, founder of skincare line S.W. Basics of Brooklyn, Natural products must contain at least 70% percent “natural” ingredients. The other 30% of ingredients can be synthetic and the product can still be labeled as natural. Some of these natural ingredients include tea tree oil, peppermint leaf oil, spearmint leaf oil, etc. 

To find out how much of your “natural” product is truly natural, the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) website can be a helpful place to start.


  • Highly regulated
  • Certified by the USDA
  • Have been grown and processed under a very strict code of cleanliness
  • No pesticides or fertilizers used in the product
  • Absolutely no genetically modified organisms (GNOs) in the product.
  • There are 3 levels of ‘organic’ products:
  1. "Made with organic materials” meaning that at least 70% of the ingredients in the product are organic.
  2. “Organic” meaning that at least 95% of the ingredients used are organic
  3. “100% Organic” meaning that the product contains 100% organically derived ingredients

According to Kreashenz’s in-house estheticians, Jacey Rogers and Dawn Apple-Nelson, it is important to use organic products on the skin. The skin, like the rest of your body rejects things that aren’t natural to it. If you put product on your face that is mostly synthetic your skin will reject it, causing irritation, allergic reactions, acne, or worse! It is always better to use a product that is organic because not only does it naturally react better with the skin (better product=better results), but it also better for the environment by lessening the number of chemicals in the air and water – and who wouldn’t want that!?

Now that you know the differences between these increasingly more common beauty labels you can better decide which products are right for you. Stay tuned for Friday's blog about Kreashenz's NEW products from Lush (100% vegan and natural) and Yarok (organic, natural, and cruelty-free)!